beatrice_otter: Me in red--face not shown (Default)
[personal profile] jedibuttercup asked: "You have a two way trip in a time machine backwards only. When do you choose to visit and return to the current time?"

Hrm.  That's really difficult.  I mean, I do have a degree in history and there are so many times and places where I would love to go back and be a fly on the wall.  Or, better, hide some small cameras and/or audio bugs around key places and times.  (As long as, you know, I didn't have to actually stay there.)  If I were doing it for personal interest ... maybe the time of Christ, and follow him around?

You see, we have no historical documents about Jesus or any of his disciples.  None.  We have the Gospels and Acts, of course, but those are not history books and were never intended to be.  (Even by the standards of the day, much less our standards.)  This is what people who read the Bible today pretty much always miss.  While the Bible tells true stories, that doesn't mean it tells factual ones.

Look, when a historian today works, they gather all the facts, sift through them, and try to figure out what they mean--to figure out, in other words, the truth.  And if they get any of their facts wrong, they get ripped to shreds.  But in ancient times, historians worked differently.  They figured out what the truth was, and then figured out how best to arrange the facts and garnish them so as to help people understand that truth.  Which is how you get things like Josephus giving us what he says is the speech given in the fortress of Masada the night before its inhabitants committed suicide to the last man.  Either he "improved" things and there were survivors to tell him about the speech, or he made up the speech because he thought it would be the most interesting way of conveying to his listeners the ideals the Jewish rebels at Masada were fighting for.  So even when you're reading history from the ancient world (or, in fact, any place prior to the Enlightenment, or any place where Western scientific theory hasn't come to dominate academia) you have to take that into account.  They told history like a story and would sometimes alter/embellish the facts to fit or dramatize things.

But even by ancient standards, the Gospels are not history books.  (There are history books in the Bible--Kings, Chronicles, Samuel--but they give very different pictures of the same events, and are definitely of the ancient model, which is not what we modern Western people expect history to be.)  The Gospels are "gospels," in Greek "euangelions"--and if that looks familiar, it should, it's the word that "evangelism" comes from and literally it means "good news."  The Gospels are designed to teach people the good news that Jesus came to bring through stories about Jesus' life.  The theology is the important part, not the history.  Which is why, for example, different Gospels record that Jesus was crucified on different days.*  Jesus' death was near Passover and theologically connected to it, but different Gospels explained that connection in different ways, resulting in different days for the crucifixion.  The theological point was more important than factual accuracy.  And more than that: the effect of that theological point on the reader or hearer was the most important thing.

All of which means that (despite all the ink spilled on the subject) there is very little we know for sure about Jesus and his disciples, from a factual historical point of view.  I've always been curious as to what actually happened, but it's not a matter of faith for me--that is, if I went back and found that things were very different from the way the Gospels tell the story, I doubt it would affect my faith because I don't read the Gospels for historical fact in the first place.

*Matthew, Mark, and Luke (the Synoptic Gospels) record that Jesus' last meal was a Passover meal (eaten on Passover Eve), and that he died the next day (still Passover, because the Jewish day starts at sunset).  John, however, records that Jesus' last meal was an ordinary friendship meal the day before Passover Eve, and that Jesus died on the Day of Preparation (i.e. he died while the Passover lambs were being slaughtered in the Temple).  John wants to hammer home that Jesus is the Passover Lamb, the Lamb of God, the one who dies to save the people from the angel of death, so he dies as the lamb dies.  The Synoptics want to hammer home that the Lord's Supper is connected to the Passover Meal, eaten the last night before the slaves become free, and Jesus' body and blood (in the form of bread and wine) are like the blood of the passover lamb, even though he doesn't die until later.  All four make similar connections, but there are different shades of meaning.  People argue: which day did Jesus die?  (After all, he can't have died on both days, and he can't have had two Last Suppers.)  I don't think it matters.  I think that if the writers of the Gospels knew people were arguing about it and thought it was a major deal, they would have been shocked and horrified.  But with our modern fact-based educations, that's the sort of thing we focus on.
beatrice_otter: Me in red--face not shown (Default)
Tell us the name of a favorite story you have written, and why is it your favorite.


Going through my fic, this was a really tough one to decide.  I eventually had to pick two.

Overall, I would say To The Lord I Will Sing (Tanakh, Miriam and Deborah) and The Storyteller (Big Fish, Jenny Beamen Hill) are my two favorites.

The Song of Miriam and the Song of Deborah have fascinated me since I first studied them.  They are, between them, two of the oldest fragments of text in the Tanakh (aka the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament).  As patriarchal as the Bible can be, that's quite amazing.  They also bear some superficial similarities, enough that some scholars claim they're actually two versions of what was originally the same song.  I don't know about that, but Miriam is the only female prophet in the Tanakh and Deborah is the only female judge, and they were both awesome in their different ways.  This story allowed me to play with the Biblical text, highlighting the similarities and differences between them, and the interplay of language.  It also let me do interesting things with structure.  I had so much fun writing it.


The Storyteller was a Yuletide fic, and an attempt to work through the theme of Big Fish (an excellent movie, you should all see it if you haven't) from a feminist perspective.  The story is all about the unreliable narrator, as Will explores the fantastical stories his father told him as a child.  But what I didn't understand until I wrote this story is that Will himself is an unreliable narrator.  Making Jenny the main character of my story gave me a chance to explore the truth behind the stories, and the reasons people tell the stories they do, all while having fun with the lush world of the south shown in the movie.

beatrice_otter: Dali's Christ of St. John of the Cross (St. John of the Cross)
Am writing up a chronology of the Bible* for a Bible study.  Perhaps having too much fun.  Half-done and already 4.5k words.  (The Bible is a long, complex document that is 3,000 years old and has been at the center of very turbulent history for most of that time.  Believe me, 4.5k words to get to the time of the early church fathers is stripping things down to bare bones.)

*NB this is not a chronology of events in the Bible.  Those are a dime a dozen, you can find decent timelines of that in most good study Bibles.  I am writing a chronology of the Bible itself, how it came to be and major events and movements that shaped it and the way we look at it.  I learned pieces of this in many different classes--Old Testament classes, New Testament classes, theology classes, church history classes.  Never was everything summarized concisely in one place, from early proto-Hebrew tribes sitting around campfires and telling stories in 2000 BCE to the present day.  In fact, nowhere have I been able to find pieces of it concisely summarized.  I'm having to go through all my text-books, picking out key events and processes, and each one reminds me of three others that need to be included.  Thank God for Wikipedia, is all i can say--I wouldn't want to trust it as a primary source, of course, but when I know basically what I'm talking about and just need to double check the dates or spelling or whatever, it's much easier than sorting through half-a-dozen textbooks looking for the right one.

If anyone wants a copy when I'm done, lemme know and I'll e-mail you.

Also. Is Evangelical Christianity Having a Great Gay Awakening?  God, I hope so,* and not a bit too soon.  If the subject of homosexuality in the Bible interests you, and you would like to read a solid academic (solid meaning "good scholarship," not "dense," though it's that in places, too) treatment of the issue that pretty well undermines the traditional position on the issue, I recommend finding a copy of Homoeroticism in the Biblical World by Martti Nissinen.

*This is not taking the Lord's name in vain.  This is prayer.

beatrice_otter: Sha're in a blue veil (Shau'ri)

Title: To the Lord I will Sing

Written by: [info - personal] beatrice_otter

Rating: PG

Book/character: Miriam (Exodus) and Deborah (Judges)

Warnings: brief non-graphic mention of torture.

Summary: Deborah and Miriam: singing the word of the Lord in times of trial.

Word Count: 3,739

Betaed by: [info - personal] devohoneybee

Notes: Written for [community profile] in_the_beginning .  The English translation of the Song of Deborah (Judges Chapter 5) is taken from the NRSV translation.  The Song of Miriam (Exodus 15:2-21, and I am using the scholarly theory that the whole thing originally belonged to Miriam and not just the last verse) is taken from Everett Fox’s translation The Five Books of Moses.  The word of God is always a direct quote.  Verses quoted in order are: Judges 5:3, Exodus 15:2, Judges 5:11, Exodus 15:21, Exodus 15:7, Judges 4:6-7, Judges 5:12, and Exodus 15:13.  The Hebrew text is taken from the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia; all errors are mine.

 

Hear, O kings; give ear, O princes; )

beatrice_otter: Cameron Mitchell, bored with a stack of files (Schoolwork)
So, school has started, and since I'm taking classes for grades this semester instead of pass/fail, my schoolwork is taking more time than it has in the past. (My seminary is not geared towards academics, it's geared towards people who want to be in parish ministry their whole careers, I'd say more people take their classes pass/fail than for grades. Not that I ever used the pass/fail thing as an excuse to slack off; but I wasn't obsessive, you know?) Anyway, my writing time is much curtailed.

I'm still excited about [community profile] in_the_beginning but I'm definitely only going to be writing one of the two prompts I claimed. Moses and his identity issues will have to wait; Miriam and Deborah and the Word of God need to be finished ASAP so they can get sent off to beta.

[livejournal.com profile] sg_rarepairings is going to be run on a prompt-claim basis this year, which is both slightly disappointing and slightly relieving. I'm looking forward to it. And to the knowledge that I definitely won't be writing Sarah Gardner/Daniel Jackson this year, having written that two years running due to being assigned to the same person. But given its timing, it will be overlapping with [livejournal.com profile] yuletide, and both of course overlap with the end of the semester and the Christmas rush, and gah. It'll all work itself out, right? Right?

Meanwhile, I've got a Reboot Spock/Uhura piece dealing with some harsh Vulcan realities that's almost certainly going to have one of those completely open-ended 'endings' that I like because they're realistic and other people don't like because they don't give closure sitting on my harddrive. It needs a scene and a half, some tweaking, and a betaing, but between classes and my [community profile] in_the_beginning fic, it's not going anywhere soon. (Okay, okay, I only like the open endings in my own fic, it drives me crazy in other peoples', and part of it is sheer laziness: I don't want to have to write the years of relationship and career exploration they're going to have on the Enterprise's mission that will have a huge effect on what choices the two of them make together and separately about where they're going and how they're going to live the rest of their lives taking into account Spock's biology and the pressure to repopulate the Vulcan species.)
beatrice_otter: Sha're in a blue veil (Shau'ri)
You have to go check out [community profile] in_the_beginning folks.  It's a ficfest for the Hebrew Bible (aka the Old Testament) and the prompt list is up.  There are a lot of good prompts, and a few that make me go WTF?, but it's awesome.
beatrice_otter: Dali's Christ of St. John of the Cross (St. John of the Cross)
Title: Understanding
Author: [livejournal.com profile] beatrice_otter 
Rating: G
Source: the Bible
Characters: Miriam
Warnings: none
Word Count: 685
Written For: kastaka ([livejournal.com profile] chess) for [livejournal.com profile] yuletide 2008.
Summary: For Miriam, the will of God has always been clear.


Miriam does not understand her brothers, either of them. )

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